Mystery Text #1

Be proud you people of these graves

these chiseled words this precedent

From these blind ruins shines our monument.


Dead navies of the brain will sail

stone celebrate its final choice

when the air shakes a single voice

a strong voice able to prevail:


Entrust no hope to stone although the stone

shelter the root – – see too-great burdens placed

with nothing certain but the risk

set on the infirm column of

the high memorial obelisk

erect in accusation sprung against

a barren sky taut over Anacostia:

Give over Gettysburg! a word will shake your glory- –

blood of the starved fell thin upon this plain,

this battle is not buried with its slain.


Gravestone and battlefield retire,

the whole green South is shadowed dark,

the slick white domes are cast in night.

But uneclipsed above this park

the veteran of the Civil War

sees havoc in the tended graves

the midnight bugles blow to free

still unemancipated slaves.


Blinded by chromium or transfiguration

we watch, as through a microscope, decay:

down the broad streets the limousines

advance in passions of display.

Air glints with diamonds, and these clavicles

emerge through orchids by whose trailing spoor

the sensitive cannot mistake

the implicit anguish of the poor.


The throats incline, the marble men rejoice

careless of torrents of despair.


Split by a tendril of revolt

stone cedes to blossom everywhere.